Fifty mile meal challenge starts

Well- my first attempt at a blog and I’m now nearing the end of day two of my attempt to consume only food and drink grown and produced within a 50 mile radius of Clevedon, North Somerset. I’m hoping to raise both money and awareness for Transition Clevedon and for a children’s home in Tanzania at the same time as seeing the challenges of only eating local produce. What am I going to miss, and what am I going to discover? How will I survive without tea, coffee, muesli, oranges, lemons, nuts, spices, pasta, rice, olive oil, beer, red wine, chocolate or sugar for a whole month?

With the uncertainties caused by climate change and the end of cheap oil, I am intrigued to see what a more local diet would look like-and if sufficient producers are indeed even there and supplying their local market. I’m really hoping to be pleasantly surprised and looking forward to the adventure of meeting producers, discovering new recipes and ingredients.

Day one went reasonably well- homemade spelt bread, local butter and honey for breakfast, washed down with apple juice. I then rushed over to Bristol to be interviewed for Radio Bristol about the challenge. Listeners were asked to phone in with suggestions about local producers and recipes and I was invited back for the end of September to see how I’ve got on. It felt strange coming home and not being able to put the kettle on to make a cup of tea, yet partially liberating as well. After what I think will become a fairly predictable cheese sandwich for lunch  I walked into town to the Veg Box to buy things for the evening meal before my veg box arrives tomorrow and to see what sort of things were in stock. Carl, as ever, was hugely helpful, looking up distances to suppliers and checking I wasn’t going to fail in the challenge on day one. Lots of apples from Tickenham, great plums and the first surprise- Somerset apricots from about 35 miles away.

Day two was not such a success- I woke with a thumping headache, feeling sick- as the effects of caffeine withdrawal kicked in. As my parents are staying with me, but not rigidly sticking to the challenge, I nobly made them coffee before we all headed off the the Veg Box again. Carl had sourced a fantastic veg box from the local farm in Farrington Gurney which gave me hope that my meals aren’t going to become repetitive or boring. The box was bulging with an abundance of beetroot, chard, lettuce, leeks, spring onions, carrots, sweetcorn, cabbage, squash, turnips and potatoes reflecting the turning from summer to autumn. With the headache diminishing, we drove over to Holt Farm in Blagdon, the organic garden owned by the owners of Yeo Valley. I loved seeing the veg garden in particular, which was beautifully and decoratively arranged making the vegetables much more than just rows of food but creatively exploiting their colour and foliage. Unfortunately I was unable to enjoy anything more than a mug of hot water in their tea room, while my parents clearly enjoyed their pot of tea and chocolate cookies, which smelt wonderful…… Eating out I feel is not going to happen in September. A Lancashire hot pot is now bubbling away in the oven as I write this: veg from the Veg Box, lamb from the New Manor Farm shop in West Harptree, with a glass of local cider. Day two survived.

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